Six Basic Swedish Massage Strokes

Brief Descriptions of the Six Basic Strokes Used In Swedish Massage

Swedish Massage is the most commonly requested type of message therapy and one of the most basic techniques that is taught during therapists’ training.

It’s responsible for that broad delightful smile people wear when they exit a massage session. It involves the application of pressure at different points on the body and the use of a number of techniques to relieve muscle tension.

Swedish Massage techniques

Six Basic Techniques Used in Swedish Massage

Trained message therapists know how to utilize the following techniques to reduce muscle tightness and stimulate muscle relaxation and proper blood circulation.


  1. Effleurage

This involves the gliding or sliding of the palm and fingertips across different parts of the body. Elongated slow strokes, which switch between light and medium pressure, are utilized to loosen knots and tension in muscles. It increases the circulation of blood and lymph and may involve the use of different techniques depending on the part of the body being treated.


  1. Petrissage

Petrissage comes from the French term petrir, which means “the act of kneading.” Petrissage is accomplished by the kneading of the muscles in a rhythmic sequence of lifting and squeezing. This is allows for deeper penetration and the rolling of tissues away from the bones. Movements are done continuously and slowly to loosen muscles and improve circulation.


  1. Friction

The most penetrating stroke in Swedish massage, this focuses on heating up muscles with the use of friction. The massage therapist applies superficial friction close to the joints, spine, and other bony parts on the body. It is administered by moving the fingertips or thumb pads backwards and forwards on the skin, or by deep circular movements. Friction improves the flexibility of joints and muscles by breaking adhesions or knots that occur when muscle fibers are bundled together.


  1. Vibration

This is involves the pressing and releasing of tissues by moving the hand up and down across the skin and shaking the finger tips. It works to improve blood circulation in muscles and enhance their ability to contract. This technique can be very helpful for individuals with chronic lower back pain.


  1. Traction

In this technique the therapist stretches the muscles and connective tissues by pulling on the head, legs, and arms. It focuses on enhancing joints’ flexibility by lengthening the nearby tissues and muscles. The spinal column can also be affected by this technique. Although it’s mainly done manually, traction can be done using equipment.


  1. Tapotement (Percussion or Tapping)

This Swedish Massage stroke involves a series of tapping, percussing, or pounding strokes. There are a number of variations to tapotement stroke. It can be done using the finger tips, cupped hands, or the edges of the hands; whichever the massage therapist prefer. Tapotement aims to reduce muscle spasms and revive overworked muscles.


Each technique may have a different variation but the effects they have on the body will generally remain the same.